Boost Your Brand With These 7 Creative Marketing Strategies for 2018

Say goodbye to marketer's block; these creative marketing strategies can boost your brand and make an impact in 2018.

If you’re anything like me, one of the biggest reasons you tune into the Super Bowl each year is to check out the latest and greatest commercials. I don’t know about you, but I, for one, was thankful that this year saw a return to humor — the last two years have been filled with pretty heavy ad spots.

As consumers, we are overwhelmed by ads every day; as marketers, we know how challenging it is to find a strategy that stands out from the crowd. Consumers respond to creativity, but it can be exhausting to stay cutting-edge. If you’re struggling to stay ahead of the curve, here are a few marketing ideas to get your creative juices flowing again.

1. Build Mystery

If you present someone with a mystery, they’re going to feel a powerful urge to figure it out. Think of the attention-getting marketing for season seven of the hit TV show The Walking Dead; viewers knew a central character had been killed, but all marketing stubbornly refused to show the crew, driving ravenous speculation about the identity of the unlucky victim.

If you’re a fan who found yourself feeling tortured before the premiere, you already understand the power of this technique. Even simple strategies, like adding a “coming soon” page to my website, have dramatically boosted my social media engagement and the buzz around my brand.

2. Think Outside the Facebook Box

If you follow marketing at all, you know that a social media presence is considered a must-have at this point. But just because social media is ubiquitous doesn’t mean it can’t be creative. Plenty of brands have found unique combinations of platforms and products to create pleasantly unexpected branding experiences. I’ve explored less tried-and-true avenues, like Snapchat and Periscope, for marketing opportunities that could bring my brand to a whole new audience.

You don’t necessarily have to platform-hop to be successful, either; one of my favorite social media campaigns was NASA’s #globalselfie project, and it used the familiar platforms of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to do it. If you’re a fan of some seriously stunning, truly out-of-this-world photography, you should join me in following them across social media.

3. Form Partnerships

Partnerships are another marketing technique that can grab attention when done in an unexpected way. Goose Island Brewery and the Weather Channel joined forces for a campaign which explored how the weather affects a hops farm, for example. If you make a less-than-conventional partnership, it’s important consumers still recognize your brand in a startling new setting. Whenever I form new partnerships, the first thing I do is strategize how to brand the new campaign in such a way that both businesses are effectively represented to potential and returning customers.

4. Get Experiential

Experiential marketing events are made for popular social media platforms, and they’re perfect opportunities to experiment and get creative. M&M’s used this strategy in May, when they used augmented reality to turn Times Square into a candy-themed arcade to promote the launch of a new product. It doesn’t have to be that tech-centered to work, though; pop-up stores, a popular trend that I’ve been exploring, can be another example of experiential marketing at play.

5. Offer Freebies

Few things get people more excited than free stuff, generating buzz around your brand. Bud Light tried this strategy when they offered free beer to the entire city of Philadelphia if the Eagles won the Super Bowl. True to their word, the company offered one free can to bar-goers during the winner’s parade, drumming up a heck of a lot of press coverage.

(I confirmed with my Eagles-fan and Philly native friend that he did, in fact, get his freebie — there were a lot of hugging strangers in the city after the big game!).

When it comes to making this strategy work for your business, you need to carefully consider ROI. I’ve been burned too many times by doing a big giveaway only to attract freebie-hunters; the goal is to bring your product or service to a new audience that will become repeat customers, not hand out free stuff for the sake of publicity.

6. Get Artsy

The combined creative power from marketers and artists coming together can produce seriously powerful campaigns. Refinery29 created a pop-up interactive art museum where visitors moved through rooms in which artists, fashion designers, and other creatives provided interactive setpieces. The show was popular in New York and recently moved to Los Angeles, where tickets sold out quickly. I use “artsy” marketing to inspire the development of visually stimulating, high-quality image content across my social media accounts.

7. Play Games

Gamification is a hot marketing buzzword right now, but it’s based off real human psychology that keeps players worldwide returning again and again to video games and other challenges. I used AppyPie to whip up an interactive app on the fly, no coding skills necessary.

What creative marketing strategies will you use to overcome marketer’s block in 2018?

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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